SEO results without links or content – is it even possible?

In my last blog post, I told you how I got great SEO results without links or content for a friends Shopify store.

It got a lot of attention and I’ve had a few emails questioning this.

Let me frame it in a way that makes a bit more sense.

The reason why I didn’t bother with links or content is because: the site didn’t need it.

At least, not at the time of launch.

And not while the site was in a terrible state.

This is very important to note.

I’m not saying you don’t need links or content.

But these things are useless if your site:
– is slow
– has little to no internal links
– has weak meta data
– has terrible headings, descriptors and CTAs
– simply sucks as a whole

Customers don’t care about your link profile. Believe me!

They don’t care about DA or PageRank or how doped up your site is on link juice.

They care about a quick loading site that is usable and is able to give them what they want.

And if your content is:
– authentic
– valuable
– written for humans

Then you’re winning.

Now back to my mate’s site: it wasn’t great at all.

It had no internal linking whatsoever (not even breadcrumbs) and the meta data wasn’t even pulling its weight.

This is an issue when you get a website template that is design-led, with little thought to usability and SEO.

But thankfully, despite the poor on page SEO, I was able to turn things around.

Here’s what I did:

– manually fixed up every title tag and meta description, for every static page, category and subcategory. I made sure it had the correct words in place (shock horror!)

– added footer links to important pages on the site (navigation was terrible).

– added more text to the homepage (there was none) and threw in internal links from within it to high value categories.

– and I took a ‘gamble’ and wrote descriptions for high value categories.

The reason it’s a ‘gamble’ is because if you look at major e-comm retailers, not everyone does this. But doesn’t mean it’s ineffective.

And it’s a gamble because I could gain rankings and traffic or lose valuable time.

Clearly, I gained.

In May 2019, when I made these SEO changes, organic search accounted for less than 2% of traffic. Paid search was 56%. The site had launched a month earlier to little fanfare.

By December 2019, organic accounted for 46% of traffic and paid search was 45%.

Why was paid so high still? because it was delivering results and justified the spend.

They’re now spending less than half of what they were before – in part due to COVID-19 but also because the SEO has cemented their spot at the top of SERPs.

The initial spend on PPC and Paid Social was worth it while the SEO took hold – they were (and still are) up against major competitors with a lot of money backing them up.

SEO has meant they no longer need to spend on PPC like before.

In fact they can probably stop altogether but it wouldn’t hurt to keep it running on fumes.

Shopify isn’t the worst system. You can optimise it and get results. You can get lots of great results by going back to basics and not complicating your life. That’s it.

Here ends today’s lesson.

Class is dismissed!

PS: A good SEO consultant will help you unstuck your website performance without jargon, fluff and baseless guarantees. Make sure you work with someone with a clue!

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